Restoration draft mulled
July 14, 2004
By M. Sullivan-Hartung
The Golden Gate Gazette
11725 Collier Blvd., Unit C
Naples, Florida 34116
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Walter Pine, Center for Civil Rights Advocacy

A small but determined group of Estates property owners and members of the Property Rights Action Committee of Collier County (PRAC) met at the Golden Gate Community Center on July 8th to discuss the draft of the Project Implementation Report (PIR) for the restoration of the Southern Golden Gate Estates (SGGE).

The focus of the meeting was to streamline the group's effort to challenge the findings of the Draft compiled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or "Corps") and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Many of those in attendance live just north of the proposed restoration and are concerned the project will adversely affect their property values and their quality of life.

PRAC has requested that both agencies be accountable to local residents as well as honor their civil rights, with regard to the massive Everglades restoration project.

Guest speaker for the meeting was Walter Pine, from the Center for Civil Rights Advocacy, who discussed how to gather the necessary information before requesting actual public records.

Pine explained in detail, step by step, how the public can access the appropriate information and request it as a public record in order to obtain a copy before filing any applicable claims.

PRAC has a variety of concerns regarding the draft, including possible flooding, construction and placement of berms, the formulas used by the Corps and others, civil rights violations, and cost calculations.

Pine said the goal of the Center for Civil Rights Advocacy is to obtain truth and accountability, while providing equal access and equality to everyone.

"There are good people in our government, but we need to hold them all accountable for their actions," he said. "I've asked for explanations and answers to previous questions (at the June 2004 Public Hearing) and concerns I have, but they were not answered. Now, I want the Corps to prove to me that their plan works -- that's all."

Because of the magnitude of the project and the numerous concerns of area groups and residents, Pine agreed to extend his discussion into a second day.

The group also discussed a new website posted for SGGE resident Jesse Hardy, who is fighting condemnation of his property as part of the Everglades restoration project. The new web site is

Cindy Kemp reported that Nanette Meaux has agreed to serve as the official liaison for this new site. Meaux is the owner of Blue Moon, Inc., a marketing and public relations firm working with a variety of businesses throughout Florida.

Meaux was the coordinator during last year's tragic boating accident involving local residents Gary Lisk, Neil Eddleman and his son Neil, Jr. Lisk's remains were found after his boat washed ashore near Cape Canaveral on the East Coast. The whereabouts of the Eddlemans is yet unknown.

Kemp read a letter titled "The American Dream or a Nightmare," based on Hardy's plight. She asked for public involvement and support. Hardy's story is far-reaching and has been covered in major publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic Constitution, and the Miami Herald. Just that morning, Hardy had been interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph.

PRAC President Bill Lhota voiced concern over the formulas used by the Corps on the requested levee for Hardy's property. By Lhota's calculations, it would take two miles of levee to enclose Hardy's property at a cost of $445,000 not the purported millions of dollars the Corps indicates in their figures.

The State has offered Hardy $4.5 million for his property. If the [Army] Corps [of Engineers] would consent to berm Hardy's land, Lhota says they could save the taxpayers $4 million.

Lhota added that Hardy has offered to construct the berm himself at his own expense, which would cost the taxpayers nothing.

Lhota added that there appears to be a serious mathematical calculation that he discovered on Sheet 8-3, paragraph 1.

Using USACE cross-section specs for the levee it would require 39 square yards.

Of cross-section times 44,299 yards long for the 25.17 miles of levees resulting in a fill requirement of 1,727,661 cubic yards plus the 30 percent compaction factor which results in 2,240,000 cubic yards of fill -- not the 224,000 as stated in the Draft.

"Those decimal points sure are important, aren't they?" he concluded.

The next regularly scheduled PRAC meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 14, at the Louise Hasse Community Center on Golden Gate Boulevard.

For more information on the group, call Lhota at 239-455-1423 or PRAC Founder Cindy Kemp at 239-352-9033.